Play has been called “the work of children” because it is through play that children learn how to interact in their environment, discover their interests, and acquire cognitive, motor, speech, language, and social-emotional skills (American Academy of Pediatrics, 2007). (1) Words can be a lot of fun if we know how to maximize their use. Together, they can be made up into stories, songs, and a whole lot of other things that will help your children be more eloquent.
Below are some examples of games and playtime activities that integrate language learning with fun: (2)
- Word games expand your children’s vocabulary. It can be as simple as pointing out items at home or during a road trip, or it can be more complex like Scrabble, Pictionary or a round of Charades (guess the meaning of words), making smaller words out of a large word, or spotting the wrong spellings.
- Jokes. Telling age-appropriate puns will also help foster good humor and creativity in children. This also encourages wordplay and imagination. You can read through kid-friendly joke books and take turns telling witty stories.
- Riddles are fun ways to use words and paint pictures of scenes or situations.
- Rhymes. The repetitive chanting, reading, writing, or hearing of rhymes promotes good listening skills and memory retention, aside from developing speech. Start a word example “Clock”, ask your child for a rhyming word. Keep saying one word each until you run out of words.
- Homonyms. Allow your children to think of words that sound alike and let them try to define each their different meanings.
- Storytelling. While storybooks provide ample entertainment, sharing stories can provide a good bonding time with your children while helping develop their communication skills. Also exchange stories about daily events. Broaden their imagination with fantastical stories and let their creativity grow as you make up stories about anything and everything around them.
- Read alternate lines of a story aloud. (5) Select a magazine or some fun reading material and you read one line and then let your child read the next line.
- Explore Books Together. It’s no secret that children love being told stories. Whether the books have pictures or not, make sure to focus on language and build associations in your child’s mind to help develop his or her language. Stop and discuss what’s happening as often as necessary, and always give your child the chance to talk about the story once the book is finished. (3)
- Songs. Simply putting a tune to an activity can be a fun game that you can play with your children. Lyrics have a sense of rhyme and rhythm so it will be easy and entertaining for them to sing along and at the same time learning new words.
- Tongue twisters. Tongue twisters are an excellent and fun way to teach children correct pronunciation and enunciation of words. It is a fun way to train their tongue to pronounce words. Start with simple ones and work your way up.
- Talk your way through the day. Point out things you see, hear, taste and smell and give your child an opportunity to respond and comprehend what you are saying. Talk about produce and products at the grocery store, what others are doing as you drive by them, different businesses and buildings and objects around your own house. Just remember to keep it simple and avoid “baby talk.” (3)
- Puppet Shows. Children feel free to talk through their puppet friend. Holding a puppet on each hand is an opportunity for a conversation between the two puppets. They can tell a favorite fairy tale using puppets and entertain the whole family. (4)
- Touchy–Feely Bags. This is a very good way to encourage children to describe objects. You need a cloth bag to put small objects into so they are not visible, to describe them and guess what they are. (4)
- Fantasy Play at Home. Creating fantasy scenarios at home really encourages language and helps children have different social experiences in the comfort of their homes. (4) Here are some ideas for fantasy play: Set up a shop corner and play ‘shop shop’, have a tea party and invite a friend to dress up or play having a wedding or party or just play ‘house’.
Games offer a fun-filled, relaxed environment where they can practice using new words and are free to express themselves. Participating in recreational activities is an effective way to develop language and communication skills. Continue to encourage your children to speak well by constructing a healthy and fun learning environment where they can unleash their creativity and broaden their linguistic skills. Guide them on how to express their thoughts, feelings and actions better through the use of words as this will prepare them to face the world with confidence as they grow.
By Dr. Bilal W. Dhainy/ M.D
(1) The Importance of Play in the Development of Language Skills Jackie M. Oddo, M.S., OTR/L & Leigh Castleberry (Former Speech-
Language Pathology Intern)
Aptamil is not the author of this article, as it has been written by Dr Bilal Dhainii who is the owner of the content.